Death Certificate (1991)—Ice Cube
Working with Public Enemy you can’t help but learn about who you are. After spending time with them, I started getting into the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. I started getting his point of view of what was going on with us in America; why we were in the condition that we were in. And I was really angry about it because I felt like we were being sabotaged in America. To this day, there’s still sabotage going on. But at that time, I was really ferocious, so I felt the best thing I could do is put that anger in rhyme form. I came up with the concept for the album cover. What the dead white body covered in the American flag represented was old ideas. Ideas of what a country should be. You have to kill that shit and start anew. There’s a lot that’s great things about America, but we have a long way to go. I thought that was the best way to get that point across.
I don’t have any regrets with recording “Black Korea.” I think in life you should only regret what you don’t do. But the song was as ugly as the situation was. When that girl Latasha [Harlins] was shot in the head, that was crazy. (On March 16, 1991, a defenseless Harlins was shot and killed by an L.A. Korean-store owner who accused the 15-year-old of stealing a bottle of orange juice. The incident gained worldwide attention and drew outrage from the black community. In response, Cube wrote the scathing “Black Korea,” a controversial song that some critics denounced as racist.) This was done even before the LA riots. “Black Korea” was a song that was trying to speak out at our frustration with our relationship with Koreans.
To me the best thing to do is to be honest about it and not pussy foot around it, especially in a rap song. You can pussy foot around it in an interview, but in a rap song you have to go all out and give the true pulse of what you are feeling. So I don’t have any regrets. If I hurt anybody’s feelings, I’m sorry about that. But there are people out there who felt a lot harsher than that record.